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December 14, 2006
Dean Jones has warned the Australia team not to concern themselves with the state of the country's Test pitches. The chorus of cricketers complaining about the uniformity of playing surfaces has continued to gain momentum, with Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath and a variety of commentators all lamenting the trend.
But Jones said there was little difference in the strips used for this year's Ashes series compared to past decades and Australia's bowlers could talk themselves into failure with negative attitudes. "I don't think they have changed much," Jones told the Herald Sun. "They are not flatter than they used to be.
"The great bowlers still got wickets on them. Great players adapt. They may back off in pace like Dennis Lillee did at the end of his career. Malcolm Marshall was the same. People have to realise when it is in your favour you go hammer and tongs, and when it is flat you make sure if you can't get a wicket you don't give them runs. Lillee and Marshall would bowl wide of the crease. They worked on the ball and bowled cutters. They bowled slower balls. They parked their egos at the gate.
"They said they didn't care whether they were the fastest bowlers in the world. They just worked out the best way they could take four or five wickets. If you go into it with a negative thought that it is going to be flat, it will be flat. It is like a batsman thinking, 'I bet I get the best ball of the day', and getting out for 20."
Michael Kasprowicz is the latest fast bowler to air his concerns about pitches. "If you go and drop in a generic wicket into every ground, you are going to produce a generic cricketer who can play only on that surface," Kasprowicz said. "That's been the beauty and the strength of cricket in Australia, the different conditions. Travelling the world, even in the UK, all of their grounds have subtle differences. There's an attraction to test yourself in the best conditions. If it becomes too sterile and too much of the same, then I don't think it's going to work."
The MCG curator Tony Ware said there was no conspiracy to standardise playing surfaces. "There's a concern that they're losing their character but it's nothing deliberate," Ware told AAP. "I think it's happened because this year to date has been a little bit drier, so they will play a bit the same."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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